Newly structured SGA strives for success


Courtesy of Villanova SGA

Jack Judge

This past year, the University’s Student Government Association restructured and amended their constitution to improve in two main areas: Efficiency and representation. The team responsible for implementing this fundamental change in structure and function was senior Claire Getter, senior John Puszcz and current Student Body President senior Matt McCarry, as well as JJ Brown, Director of Student Involvement and Joseph Citera, Assistant Director for Campus Programs. 

McCarry, who won re-election in the 2017 Election season along with Student Body Vice President senior Will Byrne, walked me through some of the procedural changes that have been implemented as a result of the new constitution. SGA has adopted the parliamentary procedure, known as Robert’s Rules of Order, which replicates how the United States Legislative Branch functions. McCarry stated that this specific change will lead to meetings being focused and will help them stay on task. This version of a structured agenda with specific rules is accompanied by a formal voting process to translate ideas into action. 

“When proposals are made to the Senate during these meetings,” McCarry said. “There are precise rules regarding their introduction, debate period and ultimately, the vote—which must be met with two-thirds approval in order to pass.” He continued to say that the senate now meets once a week, compared to twice a month, in order to better serve the student body.  

When he addressed the representative aspect of the new structure, he emphasized the changes made to Student Government will truly benefit the student body at large. “One major change that we made was the incorporation of Student Life Senators, which are representatives in our senate from various groups on campus,” he said. These groups include Disability Services, Multicultural Greek Council, VU Pride, and many others. McCarry emphasized the importance to gather a diverse set of thinkers in the same room in an effort to grant a platform for the various viewpoints of students to be expressed. Lastly, on the executive board, the new constitution has created a Vice President position for Diversity and Inclusion which McCarry highlights as part of SGA’s mission to promote attention to pressing issues.

McCarry acknowledges that as with any new change, there is always a transition period. 

“We are still in the process of working out some of the new changes because we, as a group, have been operating at such a different pace for so many years,” McCarry said. 

McCarry and his running mate, Byrne, rooted their campaign platform in the theme of “Striving For Change.” 

“We really saw the potential that SGA could have on Villanova’s campus” McCarry said. “We understood that there would be obstacles along the road, but we have a vision and we are working hard to see that more and more students are helped with SGA playing a larger role on campus.” 

He credits this new vision for SGA as a particular confidence booster in the abilities as it gives room for the organization to establish an identity and presence on campus. 

“I think SGA has been able to believe in itself for the first time in a while,” McCarry said. “There is a different vibe at our weekly meetings because the other members can see that there are significant changes being made—changes for the better.”

He recognizes that there is a greater call to action and he thinks there is a collective urge within SGA to be a better advocate for the student body. 

“When we start the meeting every Wednesday, it’s business. The business of the student body—those that we are fighting for every day,” McCarry said.

Some of the changes that SGA has made on campus include extending library hours, as the first and second floors will be open 24/7 this semester as a trial period, securing more outside seating for Café Nova and the Connelly Center, assisting in the creation of Villanova’s new Student Fan Group: The Nation and has conducted meetings regarding the long-term planning of the dining halls, Falvey Memorial Library, new senior dormitory project, academic curriculum and the athletic program. Also, this past week, SGA held their freshmen elections and appointed six new senators to represent the Class of 2021.

According to McCarry, participation is the fundamental factor to the success of SGA. All of the weekly senate meetings are open to the student body because the organization believes so strongly in direct participation of students. 

“[SGA] saw this as a change that needed to happen,” McCarry said. “Now, not only can the senators express their views about issues on campus, but any student who wants to attend one of our meetings can come and make a proposal to the senate, which is a powerful force for change.” 

McCarry noted that at a previous meeting, more than 20 members of Villanovans Against Sweatshops attended and contributed a proposal for support of their mission and action steps moving forward. 

“It was great to get to hear directly from the students and pass something impactful here at Villanova,” McCarry said. 

The vision and passion that McCarry has for SGA is vibrant. He firmly believes that the new structure and emphasis on efficiency and representation will allow the organization to further their potential to discuss prevalent issues and arrive at meaningful solutions. Certainly, the organization may have some obstacles as it becomes familiar with the new procedures and operational differences. However, there is one area that serve as the decisive factor for the success of the organization: student involvement. McCarry stressed that student participation can elevate the influence and capacity for SGA to make decisions in the best interest of the student body. 

Meetings are typically held Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. in Dougherty West Lounge.